5 rainy day play ideas to keep children thinking

By Pippa Thompson

Sam Flatman, an expert in outdoor play from Pentagon Sport, helps you and your children to make the most of bad weather.

Rainy days can be a real challenge for parents of restless children. Not only does bad weather mean children can’t get the health benefits of running around outdoors, but it also gives them an excuse to pull out the iPad for the day, neither of which are ideal. There is a solution though! Last week I talked about the importance of pretend play, but those activities aren’t restricted to the outdoors. We can keep children thinking creatively with indoor projects too, and here are five of my favourites:


Grab a Cardboard Box

One of the most simple but still most effective ways to keep children entertained on rainy days is getting hold of a cardboard box. Your box doesn’t have to be anything special and if you don’t have a box then a big washing basket will work just as well. Children have wild imaginations and can turn what looks like an ordinary old box to you and me into something wonderous. A good sized cardboard box is their opportunity to construct a castle, sail a ship or fly a spaceship!


Spy Training

Children love challenges and assault courses, so why not set up a spy training course in your own home? Grab a ball of coloured string, loop it around the banisters and tape it to the wall to create a spider web effect. Get children to practise avoiding the laser beams. This activity is not only a lot of fun for children, but it helps to improve coordination and balance.


Tooth Pick and Marshmallow Structures

If your child prefers table top activities, then toothpick and marshmallow structures will work well for them. Fill a bowl full of mini marshmallows and another full of toothpicks. Get everyone around the table and challenge them to build shapes, houses, or whatever they like! Of course, there’s going to be some sneaky eating involved too, but I’d be lying if I said that that wasn’t part of the fun!


Marble Painting

For a less messy version of painting, I recommend marble painting. All you need is a big plastic bowl or tray, some sheets of paper, coloured paints and a couple of marbles. Dip each marble in a single colour of paint and then throw them into the tray. Roll them around and hey presto, a marble painting masterpiece. If your children are a little older and will marble paint too quickly, consider finger painting instead. This is great for fine motor skills and can involve more intricate designs.


Make Your Own Tape City

Last but not least, making your own tape city is my favourite activity for keeping child occupied for hours. Clear some floor space and take out some coloured tapes. Begin by creating a big square shape, then start to fill it with roads, then buildings like houses, hospitals and schools. If your children are really young then you’ll need to help them out, but older children will be able to do this independently. Children can make their towns or cities as simple or intricate as they like! When it’s done, it makes a great place for pretend play with figures or a racing track for toy cars to zoom around.


Don’t let the rain get you down! There is plenty of fun to be had indoors, it just takes a little bit of creativity.

Next week, Sam thinks about how we can make Christmas extra special through play.

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